Surprise, surprise! So once again Tesla beats the street. The general consensus was that Tesla would deliver about 160k vehicles in the first quarter. They blew that number away delivering 185k cars. With all the analysts making noise about how the competition from the new startups and legacy automakers was going to kill Tesla, they have once again proven that their lead in this arena may very well be insurmountable.
What the analysts fail to recognize is that selling an electric vehicle is not just about the product. Tesla's investment in charging infrastructure is what makes their cars practical and also makes their leadership in this category a hurdle that few will be able to approach. Let's face it, you can buy a Mustang Mach E and it actually comes close to be a pretty nice EV, but if I want to jump in that car and drive to Texas or Florida, I now have to wrestle with the continued unreliability of third party charging networks. Just the thought of that would convince me not to take the car on that trip.
That being said, my Mach E becomes useful only for local travel. So why would I spend $50k on that car when I can spend a few dollars more and have a car that I can jump in and drive anywhere, anytime with no second thoughts.
With all that, we haven't even talked about the product itself yet. Tesla's approach to building EV's is very different than what most of the legacy automakers are doing. Their problem is that they have been building cars a certain way for a hundred years. They are always going to be mechanically inclined when dealing with design issues. On the other hand, Tesla doesn't carry that type of baggage around with them. They started from scratch and designed their cars from the ground up to be electric vehicles. Tesla isn't just a car manufacturer. They are a technology company that uses their cars as a hardware platform for their software. That seamless integration between hardware and software is what makes them unique. In many ways, this is a philosophy that began with Apple. Back in the beginning, Microsoft made the decision that they didn't want to be involved with hardware, but strictly wanted to be a software company. That created a huge problem for them since now their software had to be able to run on multiple hardware platforms. In order to accommodate that, MS DOS and later Windows would have to sacrifice performance and the quality of the user experience in order to try and be all things to all computers. Apple elected to only allow their software to run on their hardware platforms and by doing so, they were able to develop a user interface that was completely intuitive.
Tesla has taken that approach and as a result, their software has created a seamless integration with their hardware (in this case, their cars) which allows them to create a user experience which is second to none.
Don't get me wrong. This company has a long way to go. While their product strategy is brilliant, they still haven't figured out the real meaning of customer support. Walk in to any Apple store and you get an immediate education on the right way to do things. There, you have customer education and technical support at your fingertips. For some reason, Tesla has taken the position that their customers can learn all this stuff on their own. That will continue to be somewhat of a roadblock for them going forward but I think that at some point they will figure it out. Sometimes we forget that we are still dealing with a company that is in its infancy. Baby's all grow up at some point.